In other words, there aren’t spiritual and non-spiritual people, but there are people who are either more or less connected to the essence of spirituality or not.
There are people who say, “spirituality is just not for me” or, “I’m not a spiritual person.”
With the different types of spirituality and people’s increased interest in it these days, I can understand why some people refuse to be deemed “spiritual.” It feels as if spirituality has become a trend or an overused term. Some people and organizations are misusing the tools of spirituality—as with yoga or meditation—for either trying to attract individual praise or achieve financial benefits.
As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has observed, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Although I will be using the term “spiritual person/people” later, the fact is, I wouldn’t ask anyone the question, “Are you spiritual?” Instead, I’d ask, “Are you connecting to the source?” That said, what differs from one person to another is the level of connecting into that essence.
Some of us do this to a high degree without even really realizing it. I know people who haven’t read a single spiritual book, yet we can see through their words and actions that they are manifesting a high level of wakefulness. On the other hand, there are people who act or claim to be spiritual, yet they’re seemingly far from it.
There are many signs that can help us recognize a person connected to spirituality: his ability to love, forgive, be humble, the lack of concern for worldly pursuits, and so forth. However, there are a few unmistakable signs that speak to genuine spirituality:
You work on loving and healing yourself.
A person who is connected to his essence understands that loving oneself is as imperative as loving others. In fact, they are interconnected. One who hasn’t entirely loved himself/herself won’t be able to radiate love toward others. What is within is always mirrored externally. So to really know the level of your self-love, take a look at how you treat others. Also, when we love ourselves, we take responsibility for our own emotional and intellectual constitution, we care for ourselves, and accept ourselves—with our limitations, flaws, and all.
You see yourself in other people.
Love, compassion, and kindness are crucial in spirituality. But instead of talking about each one separately, I can sum them all up like this: if you see yourself in other people, it becomes effortless to love them and be kind toward them. It means you don’t see people as being “separate” from you. So long as we do, we will always find flaws in others, judge them, and blame them. When we understand that everyone comes from the same source (despite our differences), there won’t be any excuse for our lack of love or kindness.
You respect other people’s journey.
Genuine spirituality means accepting that there is no one accepted truth, and there is no one single path to awakening. This means that we don’t need to impose our beliefs or opinions on others. We can share our opinions and experiences with an open mind and be at the same time be willing to receive controversial information from others without judgment.
Suppose our destination is an island. I might go there in a boat; others in a plane. The means don’t matter; what matters is that we arrive at the island. Rumi puts this beautifully: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
You don’t blindly accept ideas about spirituality.
In order to respect other people’s journeys, your own journey shouldn’t be based on blind faith. A blind person can’t lead someone with sight. Religion doesn’t mean spirituality. Religious people often follow written scriptures without examining them. They might follow words from a place of fear—the fear of disobeying God. Spiritual people—who might also be followers of religion—examine what they read and only accept what matches their experiences. They don’t search outside as much as they search within.
Your words are in harmony with your actions.
This one speaks for itself. Spirituality is demonstrated through actions as much as faith. To believe a notion or a dogma is to intellectually accept it as true, but this really only benefits the one believing it. Every scripture we accept without examination serves us only as well as a good bedtime story. In contrast, to do good, to be good, to act upon our good words (and the good books we read) is of benefit to everyone—including ourselves.
No good or bad.
A person who hasn’t yet tapped into their essence will split events into wrong and right, good and bad. They judge situations and only accept what they think is good for them or keeps them happy. A spiritual person embraces all his experiences and understands that they’re all crucial for his personal growth. He doesn’t regard them as another attachment he wants to keep in his life; rather, he sees them as fleeting stories that are meant to teach him something. Also, he accepts all the emotions that they stir in him and understands their ephemeral nature.
You seek nature.
The world existed long before humans, but we both come from the same source. This is why a spiritual person will always seek touch and connection with nature, because he feels as if he is connecting to his ancestors or getting back to his roots. Not only does he long for this connection, but he holds deep reverence and admiration for nature and adores being present in it.
Uncertainty is often thought of as our greatest enemy. But, it is a spiritual person’s best friend. We understand that we can’t know the future or control it. The unknown doesn’t scare us, and we see that worrying is futile. We welcome what’s yet to come with open arms, comprehend impermanence, and know that the present moment is all there is.